LOCOG said that more than 100 countries "will take TV coverage of the Paralympics," according to Jacquelin Magnay of the London TELEGRAPH. Eleven new deals, including a contract with the European Broadcast Union, has resulted in a total of 36 separate broadcast contracts. Int'l Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven claimed the cumulative TV audience will tally "a record four billion worldwide," beating the figures of 3.8 billion from the '08 Beijing Paralympics. Channel 4's £9M ($14M) contract to broadcast the Games within the U.K. "was a record for the Paralympic movement." The Games also have "a Paralympic specific sponsor" in online grocery store Sainsbury's. The new contracts are for American markets of the U.S., Canada, South and Central America -- including Venezuela -- New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Ireland and Iran (TELEGRAPH, 8/27).
BIG SHOES TO FILL: In London, Ian Burrell reported that Channel 4's Paralympics coverage "may not match the BBC's 'Martini' Olympic output because of a lack of support from foreign broadcasters." Channel 4 CEO David Abraham promised that his channel would "provide the best coverage of any Paralympic Games to date." While 147 int'l networks contributed to the pooled Olympic Broadcasting Service coverage of the main games, just 16 are "taking part in televising the disabled competitors." Abraham said that Channel 4 would be "placing additional cameras at events to compensate for the limited contribution to coverage from other broadcasters." He "wasn't concerned that viewers might compare Channel 4's output -- which is being made by specialist sports broadcasters Sunset & Vine and IMG -- to the BBC's coverage." Abraham said, "We won't have as many streams and we don't think we need to do the kind of Martini coverage that the BBC did, but nonetheless it's going to be far closer to watching the coverage of the Olympics than it was watching the last Paralympics" (INDEPENDENT, 8/27).
GRAND OPENING: Also in London, Owen Gibson reported that 50,000 of the additional 70,000 tickets put on sale Sunday had been sold by Monday morning. Another 130,000 are expected to go on sale as "venue configurations are finalised." The Paralympics Opening Ceremony, directed by Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings, will feature more than 3,000 volunteers including 50 disabled performers "who have been learning circus skills from scratch." The performers will "come in earlier" than the Olympics Opening Ceremony and sit on the track to form part of the audience. LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said that the show, titled "Enlightenment," was "more thoughtful than the action-packed" first hour of Dir Danny Boyle's "rapturously received" Olympics Opening Ceremony (GUARDIAN, 8/27).